By Melissa Raffoni, Founder and CEO, The Raffoni Group
When I work with a CEO to prepare for a company’s strategic planning session, I ask him or her to create a presentation to share a vision and plan for the next cycle. The question that I’m often asked is, “Why am I presenting my views at the start of planning session? Won’t that inhibit the creativity and alignment of my senior team?”
A great question, and yes, I see how this practice could seem counter-intuitive when you are trying align your team, but I take a strong position on this approach and here’s why:
1. It’s the CEO's role to set direction. An effective CEO is in the best position to look across the landscape, both internally and externally, to see the forest from the trees. CEOs should have a point of view that is unique and at the highest level, and ideally, the most relevant.
2. The best leadership teams know and appreciate that it’s the CEO's role to set direction. Team members already know and believe that their CEOs have a point of view—so, why hide it? Senior teams appreciate directness, transparency and the strategic education and insight. I always circle around with teams after the CEO presentation and ask if they appreciated the talk or if they found it constraining. Without fail, 100% of the time they thank us for taking this approach.
3. Senior leadership teams love CEOs who are clear and transparent communicators. The best executives want to know what is a stake in the ground (must haves) and what is up for grabs. If they know the boundaries and are inspired, the results of the meeting will be substantially more effective. Hidden agendas are counter-productive and disheartening. They cause hesitancy and can lead to decision-turning after a team has worked hard at a recommendation or plan.
How to make the CEO Presentation most effective:
1. Good strategy meetings require prep work from all members, including the CEO. For strategic planning to work, all members need to come to the session prepared. The CEO Presentation forces the CEO to think through important questions and find clarity around issues so he or she can speak directly about his/her vision and goals to the team. The same is expected from other team members. One of the benefits of having a strategic facilitator is that he or she can organize, gather and compile this critical prep work prior to the meeting, including assisting the CEO with his/her presentation. This gives the leadership team a “strawman” or draft to work from on the actual planning day(s). It saves precious meeting time to prepare in advance.
2. Set the right tone. It sounds like this, “Here is my point of view. I feel strongly about these points, I’m open on these points, and I’m looking for input on these points.” This temperament is honest, true and appreciated. It sends a message that the CEO takes his/her direction-setting job seriously, is respectful of people’s time and open to diverse opinions.
3. Live by the tone. If you lead with the statements above, make sure you stay true to them. Integrity is everything. Be careful not to be so collaborative that you are perceived as indecisive and be careful not to be so directorial that you are perceived as not open. It’s a balancing act, but the best CEOs know this to be true and carefully plan their words to convey this effective leadership style.
The CEO Presentation is a key element of the strategic planning offsite. It sets direction, minimizes confusion and energizes the team. When putting it together, take the time, and get it right.
- May 7, 2018 5 Signs It's Time to Make a Change to Your Exec Team May 7, 2018
- Feb 20, 2018 Finding the Sweet Spot Between Inspirational and Operational Leadership Feb 20, 2018
- Nov 21, 2017 Smoother Sailing Ahead for CEOs Who Stay at the Helm of these 5 Core Responsibilities Nov 21, 2017
- Oct 3, 2017 Why You Should STOP Thinking about Cascading Goals to Your Organization Oct 3, 2017
- Jun 19, 2017 5 Essential “To Dos” for Every CEO’s Summer Plan Jun 19, 2017
- Jun 5, 2017 Preparation Makes Perfect: 5 Tips for Preparing for Your Strategic Planning Session Jun 5, 2017
- Jun 1, 2017 Strategic Planning: Why Start with A CEO Presentation? Jun 1, 2017
- Sep 2, 2016 CEO, Do You Know What Makes You Happy? Sep 2, 2016
- Sep 2, 2016 6 Reasons Why Traveling for Pleasure Will Make You a Better CEO Sep 2, 2016
- Jun 29, 2016 The CEO's Role in Managing Culture: Do What You Believe in Most Jun 29, 2016
- Jun 29, 2016 Top 6 Signs of Burnout for CEOs and the C-Suite Jun 29, 2016
- Apr 21, 2016 CEOs share the top 15 REASONS they make time for a CEO Peer group Apr 21, 2016
- Mar 1, 2016 Are You Tracking Projects or Tracking Results? Tell the Truth. Mar 1, 2016
- Mar 1, 2016 How to Make Sure Q1 Doesn't Get You Down: Focus First on Yourself, then on Your Company Culture Mar 1, 2016
- Dec 22, 2015 9 Steps for an Eye-Opening Assessment of Your Leadership Team, Strategy, and Strategic Planning Process Dec 22, 2015
- Dec 22, 2015 For Mature CEOs Only: Ask Yourself These 12 Probing Questions as You Close Out 2015 Dec 22, 2015
- Nov 10, 2015 2015 CEO Collective Retreat Recap Nov 10, 2015
- Sep 15, 2015 Does Your Leadership Team have High Executive Function? Sep 15, 2015
- Sep 14, 2015 Top 7 CEO Personal Development Goals for the New Year Sep 14, 2015
- Jul 22, 2015 Are You An Engaged CEO Champion? Ask Yourself These 3 Questions Jul 22, 2015
- Jul 22, 2015 5 Mistakes Even the Best CEOs Make Jul 22, 2015
- May 2015
- Mar 24, 2015 How to Improve Your Strategic Scorecard Mar 24, 2015
- Mar 24, 2015 What a Strategic Scorecard Is and Why You Should Care Mar 24, 2015
- Feb 3, 2015 Are You a Graceful CEO? Feb 3, 2015
- Nov 20, 2014 CEOs “Find Their Tribe” at the Raffoni Group’s 9th Annual CEO Collective Retreat Nov 20, 2014